Amazing Selling Machine student, Athena Severi, reveals how to undercut your competition by working face-to-face with your suppliers. She goes on to explain how you can join her on the exclusive China Magic trip to gain mentorship and access to the world’s largest product sourcing fair. You’ll learn how to find a supplier in China so you can build your Amazon business.
Watch as Jason Katzenback, CEO and Co-Founder of Amazing.com, interviews Athena Severi. Here she shares expert tips and proven techniques for building face-to-face relationships with your supplier. Her tips can help you get the lowest product prices your supplier can offer and gain access to brand new products before they hit Amazon.
The Importance of Building Relationships
Athena explains that building relationships is an essential part of building a business. Relationship building helps to create synergies between business owners and their customers and suppliers. Athena reveals that often people overlook the relationship they have with their supplier. Manufacturers and suppliers are a big part of a business, especially when sellers are manufacturing internationally in places like China. Athena shares if you don’t have a good relationship with your manufacturer, you can run into a lot of issues.
Building Relationships with China Suppliers
In China, there is a word for relationships: guanji. Athena explains when you have a great relationship with your supplier, you become more like their partner. In your supplier’s eyes you’re their family. Once you establish that relationship, suppliers will move mountains for you, and work with you to find the best quality products. They’ll work with you to make things the best they can be, because they believe in you and in the relationship. Athena reveals this kind of relationship building is essential in China and is something that is difficult to do in a long-distance relationship that operates on the phone or computer.
Earn a Supplier’s Trust to Get Better Business Deals
Jason Katzenback explains his own business has gotten better deals from vendors because of the relationships he’s built. Often, he has gotten lower pricing and quick turnaround work in emergencies; all because his supplier trusts him. Suppliers have even come to him with product ideas. Once a supplier is confident in the relationship, they will engage with you and your business because they trust you to sell things.
Meeting Suppliers with China Magic
Because having a personal relationship with suppliers brings huge benefits, Athena has started to organize a trip to China, called China Magic. Athena brought together incredible people with endless knowledge regarding China and sourcing to mentor travelers and sellers. One member of her team has been traveling to China for over 20 years. Another gentleman has been living in China, traveling to China for 10 years, and sources products for Google, the NFL, and the NBA. In all, she has 10 mentors who will go on the trip. The mentors bring a group of people to China and take care of them every step of the way. They teach the group how to find the right products and the right suppliers. In the end, they build a network of people that help each other. China can be intimidating, but Athena has set up her trip to hand-hold along the way. She tells sellers exactly where they need to go and allows them to leverage her knowledge. The sellers travel to China during the Canton Fair, the world’s largest sourcing fair.
The Importance of Going to China
Athena reveals in the beginning, sellers often don’t realize the importance of going to China. One of the best examples is the Canton Fair. The fair has been around for 6 years, and it’s the largest sourcing fair in the world. The fair has an ocean of products and endless possibilities. Everything from kitchen and beauty to sports and outdoors and more, the sourcing fair has it all. People from all over the world go to this fair.
Understanding the Chinese Culture
The fair is the perfect place to listen to experts and learn about the culture by engaging with suppliers. Athena reveals even something as simple as presenting your business card the wrong way to a supplier can make them feel as though you don’t know what you’re doing, and you shouldn’t be trusted. These suppliers are looking for people they can trust, as they value long term relationships. They look for good sellers who they can work with for years. Suppliers don’t want to work with people who rush in their booth and start asking how much products cost without sitting down and actually talking to them. Gaining their trust is as simple as having a conversation with them about the business you’re building and the future you see for yourself.
Benefits of the Canton Fair
At the Canton Fair, sellers have the opportunity to see products that have not hit the market yet. No one will know they exist and they aren’t on Alibaba yet. Athena shares starting on Alibaba and finding products through there is a good way to start, but the professionals travel to China and build a relationship with their suppliers. When people come to China, they get better pricing, better terms, better logistics, and sometimes even free shipping. These relationships save people thousands of dollars a year on production costs. Athena explains that building a relationship in person can lead to saving 10% on production costs and getting a net 90 instead of a net 30.
Athena explains that the Canton Fair is a professional environment, and everyone speaks English. If a seller wishes to visit a supplier, Athena’s group has a network of people throughout different towns who speak English and can accompany sellers on their visits.
How the China Magic Trip Works
If you live in the U.S., the group gathers at LAX in California and everyone gets on the same plane. When the group arrives, a bus picks everyone up. Those who live in the UK, Australia, or other countries will travel with other organized groups. Everyone travels by bus after the airport to the Four Season’s hotel. The group stays there for 12 days and goes to the Canton Fair. Phase two of the trip takes the sellers to Hong Kong by train, where they go to a futuristic fair called Lifestyles.
Each day the group eats breakfast together. Every night the group masterminds. The group discusses plans for their business that they are able to implement right then and there. Athena reveals that one woman had only been selling for a few months and got up to $20,000 a month for one product before they even left China, just by implementing the things they discussed at night.
The trip includes meals every day, including dinner, a pirate ship trip in Hong Kong, transportation to activities, and access to a huge team of mentors with one on one mentorship. It does not include the flight or hotel.
When Does the China Trip Happen?
The China Magic group arrives in China on October 23rd and leave on November 4th. After enrolling in the China Magic trip, they will take you step by step on how to book travel and help will all logistics. You need a passport, and China Magic helps with getting your Visa.
CHINA MAGIC FULL VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:
Jason: Hey there everyone, Jason Katzenback here, CEO and co-founder of amazing.com. With me here I have my good friend and fellow ASM student, Athena Suvari. Athena, thank you for being here.
Athena: Thanks so much for having me, Jason. It’s a big honor.
Jason: Cool. Athena, if you don’t know, is very much a proponent of relationship building. In fact, she’s been involved with many of our events and helping us doing networking to help connect people. Maybe for those that don’t know you, you could explain a little bit about your passion and what you do.
Athena: Absolutely. Thanks Jason. For me, building relationships and creating that synergy between whether it’s your customers, fellow ASM students where you do that networking, you can really connect and between you, build on bigger relationships, and also that applies to suppliers and pretty much anyone when it comes to business.
Jason: Suppliers I think is something you would agree with that we oftentimes overlook, that we forget that that’s a relationship we have to build. With a big, big component of this business being a part of having manufacturing suppliers, especially manufacturing suppliers internationally such as in China, that can raise a lot of issues if you don’t really have a good relationship with your manufacturing. Maybe you can explain a little bit about the importance of relationships, especially when dealing with China.
Athena: When it comes to dealing with China in particular, there’s a word for relationships called guanxi, and when you have an amazing relationship with your supplier, it’s more like they’re your partner and in their eyes, you’re their family. They will move mountains for you. They will find you the best quality. They will make things so much better for you because they believe in you, they believe in the relationship. It is the crucial thing in China, which is very difficult to get from a long distance over the phone or over the computer relationship.
Jason: Yeah, 100%. I can vouch within my own business, the deals that I’ve gotten from my vendors because of their relationships with lower prices. They’re able to do quick turnaround work in emergencies because they trust you.
There’s just so many advantages, and also on top of that, the surprise that you often get is they actually come to you with product ideas. They start engaging with you because they know they can trust you to sell things, so it’s really great. Now, because of that, you’ve actually started organizing a China trip.
Jason: What is the reason for doing this? Obviously going to China is important, but it’s much more than just going to China. Maybe explain a little bit about what China Magic is.
Athena: Sure. The reason why I call it China Magic is it pretty much is magic. You’ve got some of the most incredible people that are so knowledgeable regarding China and sourcing. I have a gentleman that’s been going there for over 20 years. I have another gentleman who’s been living in China and going there for about 10 years, but he sources products for Google, for the NFL, the NBA, his own family’s company. This guy is a master. He has the biggest heart you’ve ever seen.
I also bring about 10 other mentors, and what we do is we bring a group of people to China and we take perfect care of them every step of the way so that they learn how to really do what they want to do, which is to find the right products, the right suppliers. In turn, we build this network of people that can really help each other. It’s really an incredible experience.
Jason: This is done in overlap with the Canton Fair, so maybe explain a little bit how that works and why the Canton Fair is such an important thing for Amazon sellers to really understand and take advantage of.
Athena: Sure. As an Amazon seller, especially when you’re beginning, you may or may not realize the importance of going to China for example in the Canton Fair. It’s a fair that’s been around for about 60 years. It’s the largest sourcing fair in the world, and you’re walking through, and a lot of people get stuck on that product selection part of things. When you’re there, you literally have an ocean of products. It’s an endless possibility of things that you can source.
What we do is we go during the Canton Fair, two different phases, and these phases have kitchen, beauty products, sports and outdoors. Pretty much anything that you’re looking for to sell on Amazon, you will find it because it’s not just people from China that go to this fair. You even have people from all over the world. If you’re looking for a product, you will find it out there. It’s amazing.
Jason: One of the surprise benefits that I loved about having a relationship with my supplier in China was them showing me products and finding products that are not even available to anybody else. Maybe you can expand a little bit more on that.
Athena: Sure, absolutely. In this market, it’s really important to have cutting edge products, really high quality things that aren’t quite on the market yet. When you’re in the Canton Fair, especially after you listen to some of our experts talk about building these relationships, you have to understand something. They have a different culture. I’m good at relationships. I was doing things all wrong.
Once you understand the culture and the manners and the way that you go about things, I’ll give you a simple example. Let’s say I was going to give you my business card, right? If you don’t hold your business card on the two edges and actually present it like this in a very humble way, they immediately know that you’re western and that you don’t know what you’re doing. They don’t want to do business with you, because if you didn’t have the thought to figure out just the basics of their culture, it’s like how are you going to be as a business partner?
They want that. They want a long-term relationship. They want to find people who are going to be good sellers that they can be in touch with for years. That is what they’re looking for, and there’s people that go to the Canton Fair and they rush in the booth like, “How much is this? How much is that?” They don’t have the manners and they don’t sit down and actually talk with them. When you talk to the suppliers and you talk about the future and what you’re building and all of that, they want to help you, so they’re going to find these products that are not on the market yet or maybe they’re in the market in Europe but they’re not in the US, and they’re going to be like, “Hey Jason, this is the thing.”
Jason: That’s awesome.
Athena: You get that one thing and it literally could change everything, that one product that’s not hit the market yet. You come first to market, and boom. You would have no way of doing that searching on Alibaba because it’s not on Alibaba. Alibaba is a fantastic way to start. That’s where I started, but if you want to be a professional, it’s really important to go there and be face to face and actually work with your suppliers.
Another thing that I think is really, really important to know is that your terms that you have with your supplier can be improved time and time again. We’ve had some really big sellers, guys doing hundreds of thousands of dollars a month and they come to China, they get better pricing even though they’ve had a relationship with their supplier for years, better terms, better logistics. Sometimes their shipping is off and they just adjust a few things. If you’re a seller that’s doing 50, 100 plus, we can literally save you thousands of dollars on product costs, logistics, everything. We have a lot of amazing stories about that.
Jason: It’s so true. It’s so powerful. Once you have that relationship and you build that trust, just little things like saving 10 cents, five cents off a product, being able to get a net 90 instead of a net 30 meaning that you don’t have to pay your inventory off for three times as long, little things like that that can do so much for your cashflow and your business. That’s awesome.
Athena: Yeah, absolutely. I actually have a story of a girl who came with me to my second China Magic, actually. She’d been sourcing from this one supplier for over two and a half years, and she didn’t let him know who she was when she went to visit with him at the booth. She spent several hours talking to this guy after having done the training with us and really built that rapport. He quoted her 20% less than what she’s getting.
Athena: This woman’s BSR is in the 200s in sports and outdoors, so you can imagine the cost savings for her. She was so happy.
Jason: That’s excellent, that’s excellent.
Athena: Yeah. Oh, here’s another one. Another dear friend of mine, she found her supplier’s supplier. She didn’t realize that she was getting a middle person supplying her the whole time, and then she found that out and actually found the original supplier. She was getting her product for about $8 or $9. It went down to about $3.50, and this woman is also killing it. Yeah.
Jason: Very cool. Now, China can be intimidating, especially for people that haven’t been there before, but you have it set up so that you pretty much hand hold everyone through the process so that they know exactly where to go and every day you’re leveraging that knowledge, too. I know that you do daily touch bases and everything. Maybe explain more about the overview of what the actual China trip is.
Athena: Okay, I will. Here’s how we do it. If you’re in the US, we all gather in LAX and we get on the same plane together. When we arrive, we actually have a bus that picks us all up. If you’re from the UK, Australia, we have different areas that we’re getting a group together, then I pick you guys up in a beautiful bus. We go to the Four Seasons Hotel. We actually stay there for the 12 days and we are able to go to the Canton Fair phase two. Then, we head over to Hong Kong and we’re going to go to a special futuristic fair there called Lifestyles.
Jason: Very cool.
Athena: Then, we go back to phase three and everything is all prepared. We go on a train together to Hong Kong. Every day we have breakfast together. Every evening we’re masterminding, and one of the really magical things about this trip is that we are able to implement when we’re in China because we’re there so long. We’re there for 12 days, that when we do the content in the evenings, we actually implement right there. You’re going to see changes in your business while still in China.
We have so many results like that. One lady, she’d only been selling for a few months. She got it up to about 20000 a month on one product. We doubled that while we were still in China just from implementing some of the stuff that we were doing.
Jason: Excellent, yeah. There’s nothing but positive feedback I’ve heard about the trip. Thankfully, you’ve got such a passion for making sure people are connecting and building those relationships. It can be hard building relationships when there’s a language barrier. How do you guys manage that with the language barrier?
Athena: Well, in Canton, people speak English. It’s a very professional fair, so you don’t have to worry about that. If you’re going to visit a supplier, we have a whole network of people in all different towns that speak English, so we arranged that for you. It’s really not scary. I will tell you, I’m a bit of a princess. I make this trip so decked out. Everything you need, it’s all there.
Jason: If you want to travel in style, go with the princess. That’s an important thing.
Athena: That’s what I’ve been saying.
Jason: With the China trip, you get everything you covered. This includes what?
Athena: The two things it doesn’t include is the flight and the hotel. You pay for the event and what it does include is we have meals every day. We do dinners every day. We go out on a pirate ship in Hong Kong. We do the transport. We do a lot of extra activities and I bring a huge team of mentors because I believe in having that one on one, and so that’s one of the special things that we do out there is we actually get a lot of one on one mentoring to actually help you with your business. It’s pretty amazing.
Jason: These mentors, they’re not just employees by any stretch of the imagination. These are actually sellers.
Athena: Okay, yeah.
Jason: Let’s explain that so they understand.
Athena: Let me tell you, okay. If I’m good at anything, it’s in collecting amazing people, because the mentors I’m bringing, these guys, I have one guy doing about 30 million a year on Amazon. He’s not someone you’d ever see on a webinar. This is a seller. This is a guy who’s very dedicated just to his business, but he’s a great friend of mine and he loves giving back, so he comes with us and he just gives it his all for those couple weeks. That’s his way of giving back to the community.
Like I said, I’ve got a gentleman who’s been sourcing for over 20 years. These guys, they come, and they don’t do it for money. They actually do it because they want to help. We have guys who are in the business. We’ve got marketing experts. We’ve got SEO experts. Our team’s like a dream team. My head mentor, Dan Ashburn, he’s incredible and he has a whole marketing agency. When he talks about branding, he really knows his stuff. I have just an amazing group of guys.
Jason: Excellent. With going to the China fair, what is the dates and what about things like a passport? There might be people that are worried about that. Maybe explain the dates and then how you take care of everyone to make sure that everything is set.
Athena: Absolutely. We arrive in China on October 23rd, and then we leave on the 4th of November. It’s about 12 days total, plus a bit of travel time. As soon as you guys enroll in China Magic, I have a lady who has 13 years logistics experience and what she does is she takes you step by step. You’re going to know everything you need to do. It’s all there for you. You do need a passport. We’re going to help you get your visa. All those things are very easy to do and we’ll walk you through it, and if you have questions, she has her phone number right there. You call her and she actually works with you.
Here’s the thing, Jason. I don’t know if you know this about me, but the first trip, I booked every single thing myself for every single person. I want everyone so happy. I survey them all before we go. I found out where they are in their business, what their goals are, what topics they want. My dream is that they go to this thing and they walk away and not just is their business changed, their life is changed. They’ve now met people that they will connect with for the rest of their lives.
Jason: There’s no doubt about that. When you travel, so learning to deal with China from a perspective of a business perspective, being able to understand their culture, being able to travel with world class people that are crushing it on this business, in an environment where you’re learning together, you’re growing together. You build relationships better than anything. You’ll have friends for the rest of your life at a level that you’ll be totally surprised with.
Jason: China is definitely a big player in this industry. If you really have an interest in learning more about going to China, I highly encourage you to sign up for China Magic. There’s limited spots available. There’s only so many people that she can take and coordinate on this trip.
Athena: That’s right.
Jason: We fully support China Magic. This has been something that we know there’s a need for and Athena’s put together a wonderful program, so if you have any desire to go to China, I highly encourage you to sign up. This will give you such an eye opening experience to be able to not only better source products, but actually grow your business by learning and growing with other sellers, too. There’s only a limited supply. Please, please, please sign up before they’re all gone because once the spots are gone, they will be gone. Athena, thank you very much for giving us your time.
Athena: Thank you, Jason.
Jason: I’m excited for everyone to be able to sign up.
Athena: Yes. Thank you guys. Thank you.
Matt Clark is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Amazing.com, a serial entrepreneur, and investor. He’s been featured on Forbes, CNBC, and Entrepreneur.com.